You Ask We Answer | Flooring Underlayment Options

Posted by Rob Banks on

Hello all, today's 'You Ask We Answer' blog post ... What types of underlayment are available for me to consider when buying a floating floor and do I need to buy it?

We get this question every day in some form or another. It is so common for the simple reason that you can't have a floating floor without something to float it on! Underlayment is mandatory component to a floating floor installation. We have snapped a few photos for you from our warehouse and will give you the high level answer to help you prepare to make your buying decision. Follow these 3 questions and you are going to be heading in the right direction.

3 in 1 underlayment for flooring, Word of Mouth Floors Richmond BC Canada

When buying flooring underlayment ask yourself this:

1) do I need it?

2) is moisture a concern

3) is sound a concern?

4) Is my Subfloor perfect?

5) Budget

Vinyl underlayment for flooring, Word of Mouth Floors Richmond BC Canada

(1) Do I Need Flooring Underlayment?

If you are doing a floating floor installation, you must have underlayment. This means if you have a laminate click lock floor, a vinyl click lock floor, or wish to float an engineered hardwood floor, yes, you need underlayment. When do I NOT need to buy extra rolls of underlayment for my hard surface flooring purchase? When the underpad is already attached to the flooring. Many types of SPC Vinyl flooring has pad attached already, and as that type of flooring is waterproof, therefore you do not need to purchase extra underlayment in that situation.

underlayment for flooring, Word of Mouth Floors Richmond BC Canada

2) Is Moisture a concern?

A function of many types of underlayment is to help prevent moisture from the subfloor (ie: concrete) from coming up into the flooring. A plywood subfloor does not require a vapor barrier, a concrete subfloor does.

Underlayment with vapour barrier built in is literally a barrier against subfloor moisture, therefore protecting the flooring from that moisture. All concrete holds moisture in it, it’s a characteristic of concrete. So flooring manufactures require you install your floating floor with a vapour barrier. The easiest way to do that is to have it included in your underlayment roll.

3 in 1 underlayment for flooring, Word of Mouth Floors Richmond BC Canada

3) Is Sound from your Flooring a concern?

A top feature in quality underlayment is its roll as a sound barrier.   It is used to muffle sounds not only between different levels in the home but also those made from walking on the floor itself.  Sound ratings are given for the level of sound repression you can get in your underlayment. You want to have a material included in your underlayment to help with sound transfer.

The best 3 in 1 underlayments with high STC & IIC sound ratings are frequently used in condominium and apartment construction, where Strata boards often require minimum sound decibel requirements to cut down on sound transmission between floors.

4) Is my Subfloor perfect?

High quality, dense (often 3 in 1) underlayment rolls help provide added support as the flooring expands and shifts during temperature and humidity changes. The thicker or more robust underlayment options help cover deficiencies in the the subfloor. You also need to carefully prepare your subfloor before installation to ensure a successful installation… but higher quality underlayment goes a long way to helping create a successful install. That quality underlayment will ensure your float floats as it should with a secure subfloor combination and help the flooring deal with changes in environment.

5) Flooring Budget

This seems obvious, but you get what you pay for. You can keep pricing of your flooring investment lower with entry level underlayment. If you have a single level ranger style home with plywood subfloor, with little worry about sound transfer, then you can go with a basic 2 in 1 inexpensive underlayment. For piece of mind and higher performance, premium underlayment can cost double, triple or even more than the entry level underlayment. Our best selling is the sound resistant 3 in 1 product. It is still very reasonably priced, but give extra performance vs the entry level 2 in 1 option.

Image of blue foam, our inexpensive 2 in 1 underlayment option:

underlayment for flooring

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